Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It was a lot of hard work, but at the end of the day, the appreciative smiles and earnest thanks of those we served made it all completely worth it.
For the meal we had appetizers from our local and awesome nut cheeze makers, a pumpkin soup served in a pumpkin, and a pear and walnut salad. For dinner we had delicious crowder bean croquettes with mushroom gravy, roasted root veggies, and kale. For dessert we had a to-die-for apple pie and homemade ice cream. Not only that, but we had a vegan candy toss for all the veggie children. Like I said, it was a great success.
The pictures here were obviously not taken by me. They are all taken by Heather Spealman, our local (vegan) jewelry maker and photographer.
Monday, October 26, 2009
1 small head of cabbage
1 Onion, sliced
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
4 Carrots, peeled and julienne cut
1 Large Zucchini, sliced in rounds
1 Large Yellow Squash, sliced in rounds
1 Red Bell Pepper, Sliced
Scallions, chopped, for garnish
1 Can of Coconut Milk
1/2 Package of Silken Tofu
1/2 Tbsp Thyme
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Curry
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 1/2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Agave
1/2 Tbsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Red Curry Paste
1 Tbsp Ginger
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 Bay Leaves
Saute onions, cabbage, and garlic in a little bit of water (or a little olive oil if you prefer) until soft, but not brown. Set aside and keep warm.
Prepare rice according to directions.
Steam zucchini, squash, bell pepper, and carrots until soft (but not too soft).
Blend all sauce ingredients together in blender until smooth. Heat in a small saucepan with the bay leaves over medium low heat until heated through, stirring occasionally.
When serving, put a bed of the cabbage, onion, and garlic mixture on your plate. Put a scoop of rice on top of the cabbage mixture in the middle of the plate. Surround the scoop of rice with the steamed veggies. Drizzle the sauce over the top of the rice and veggies. Top with scallions. Enjoy!
This is a great dish that Heather and I truly love. Adjust the spices to your taste and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't tried blending a green chile in there or adding more curry. If any of you try this by the way, please share, as I'd love to hear what other people think of my creation.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Don't you hate it when you have a fantastic idea for dinner and it turns out to be a bust?
You find a recipe you are excited about. You buy all the ingredients, usually expensive ones. You slave diligently over the stove, excited to share your delicious meal with your loved ones.
Then there is that moment...
You know the moment I'm talking about.
We all know that sinking feeling that occurs when you suddenly realize that your delicious meal is not delicious. It can happen when you taste the recipe to see if you have the right amount of spices. It can happen when you get a whiff of something that doesn't smell quite right. It can happen as you see the look on the face of your dinner partner as they try it.
All cooks, veterans and beginners, have those moments. So tonight I wanted to share with you our 5 top Dinner Disasters:
1. Korma Catastrophe
Our favorite Indian restaurant in Maryland has a delicious korma dish that Brandon loves. He wants nothing more than to replicate it at home. He had already tried making two or three mediocre replicas when, at an Indian market, we found a korma mix packet that was vegan! He was so excited to get home and try it. We bought a bunch of fresh veggies and rice and we were ready to go. The packet said to only put half of the powder in if we wanted the dish to be mild. That was the plan. Brandon forgot and the whole packet went in. When they say that Indian hot is way hotter than American hot, they weren't kidding. That was the spiciest meal we had ever eaten. We tried all the tricks - putting a potato in the sauce to soak up the spices, using more rice than veggies, drinking soy milk on the side. Nothing worked. It was inedible.
2. Seitan Cordon Blues
Brandon wanted to replicate his chicken cordon bleu recipe, but in a more compassionate manner. So, he tried a boiled 'chicken' seitan recipe, with faux ham, and 'cheese,' baked it in the oven. He served it to me and my Mom. It was a bit dry, a lot chewy, and a bit tasteless. We haven't tried it again, but one day I think he'll get it!
3. Crunchy, Basil-y Lasagna
Back before I was vegan or even vegetarian, I had a vegetarian friend. I liked vegetarian food and cooked it at home often, so I thought I'd make her a dinner one night. I had made this delicious lasagna with basil and cheese for Brandon and we had loved it. So, I decided to make that dish for her. I was still new to cooking and when I couldn't find real basil, my innocent, new-to-cooking plan was to use dried basil instead. Now I am horrified at the thought of using dried basil in the same amount as the recipe originally requested of fresh basil... If that wasn't bad enough, I didn't get the right kind of pasta. My friend was a trooper though. She crunched through the uncooked lasagna, the cup of dried basil, and drippy (ew!) cheese with a smile. Poor thing!
4. Blueberry Parfait Horror
Last Fourth of July, my Mom and I made these delicious looking berry parfaits from My Sweet Vegan. It had complicated ingredients, like agar, but we were excited about making them. For whatever reason, whether we cooked the agar wrong or bought a bad batch or the arrowroot was bad, the parfaits turned out chalky and horrible with bits of congealed agar floating around with the blueberries.
5. Curried Pumpkin Black Bean Soup
Sounds good doesn't it? I should have known that the recipe wasn't a good one when the recipe said to garnish with sour cream and eat with tortillas. I didn't listen to my instinct though, and made this terrible, watery soup that didn't have much of a taste at all. Luckily, we were able to make it edible with a lot more spices, some peas, and hot sauce.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I was also hooked.
Six years later, with intermittent regularity, I've been practicing. I take classes when I can, but mostly I practice at home on my own, or I use the fantastic website, Yoga Today. I wish I could afford to take classes in a studio, but it's just too darn expensive. If you haven't tried yoga, I highly suggest you give it a whirl, even if you don't fancy yourself flexible. It's definitely not about being flexible. It's about something entirely different and if you go, you'll find out what that is.
Anyway, I told you all of that so I could introduce a delicious salad Brandon and I enjoyed last night. I bought the most recent Yoga Journal (November 2009). In it are a couple of recipes for warm winter salads. I almost flipped by, since salads are one of those things that don't really spark my interest, but one of the recipes contained the three magic words that always catch my eye: quinoa, sweet potatoes, and kale. Those are my three favorite ingredients! I decided to try it out... and let me tell you, even my seriously skeptical husband was impressed. Now run out, buy or borrow the November Yoga Journal, flip to page 38 and make this salad. Replace the honey with agave nectar and you are golden... and maybe, just maybe, you'll read the rest of the magazine and be inspired to start your own yoga practice.
Enjoy and Namaste!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Once upon a time, in a tiny little city called Greensboro, two vegans went out to dinner at the only vegetarian restaurant in town...
Brandon and I are deeply grateful for the existence of Boba House. Without it, we would be relegated to having date night at restaurants with only one or two sketchy vegan options. At Boba, we have many choices, plus the food is really good and the atmosphere is truly unique. Plus they have vegan desserts!
Since the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (UNCG) is located here, there are a lot of college kids downtown. Thank goodness for them! Without them, we wouldn't have the adorable artsy, downtown area that we have. And we definitely wouldn't have Boba House.
If you are looking for a great night out in Greensboro, start with Boba. I suggest starting with the Crispy Spring Rolls, then ordering the Eternal Bliss with "chicken" or "shrimp." Interesting side note: Boba makes all their own faux meats, so you are really getting something original and different. Finally, make sure you order the Kahlua Cake for dessert. You won't be disappointed.
Afterwards, see a movie at the historic Carolina Theater or catch a live play at the Triad Stage. Or you could just walk around downtown, check out all the lovely stores and numerous art galleries. There are antique stores, cute little shops, and places to grab a beer. You'll find plenty to keep you occupied downtown.
Greensboro is a small city, but it is a unique one and it has a lot to offer to the visiting vegan. If you find yourself in the area any time soon, make sure you stop at Boba House and enjoy all the city has to offer.
Until next time!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
What's worse than attending a work potluck as a vegan?
Organizing a work potluck as a vegan.
Tomorrow my office is having a big office potluck. I'm the secretary, so I usually do the planning on most of my office's work functions. Luckily, the people I work with are wonderfully supportive of my veganism, so that isn't the issue. I'm not around meat a lot, so these functions kind of throw me into the meat world again. For example, everyone wants a meat dish, so I have to deal with a lot of meat talk. What kind of meat do we want? How much meat do we want? So far, I haven't had to take their money and actually buy it yet. Other people have always volunteered.
Also, I usually take up a collection of money and go out and get snacks and extras. Of course, people always ask for things I don't want to buy, like those big bags of Halloween candy that contain Snickers, Milky Ways, etc. Today, I just ignored all the suggestions and bought a big bag of vegan candy. There was a lovely bag of Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids at the grocery store. I got plain chips, nuts, and pretzels. I figure, if they don't like it, then they shouldn't send the vegan to buy it.
Then comes the actual potluck - a lot of people weighing their plates down with all sorts of different non-vegan stuff, while looking at my measly (but delicious) plate with pity. "Oh, that's right... you can't have this cake, can you? It has eggs in it. I'm sooo sorry."
Needless to say, I kind of dread tomorrow. Not that I expect anyone to go out of their way and make anything that I can eat. I really don't. I would be terribly embarrassed if they tried to accommodate me. I'm always prepared for these events anyway. My trusty PB&J and me get along just fine. However, I do know that at least one wonderful person will make something that I can eat. Also, I can eat my lovely dish. You know, the one that is going to be out of place around all the mayonnaise-drenched potato salads and chicken wings. I made Veganomicon's Lentil Salad. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks delicious and I know I will enjoy it a lot tomorrow, alongside the pasta salad I know will be vegan. Wish me luck!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I used to love a glass of milk. I know, many people cook with milk, many have it in their cereal, many hardly use it. I however, love a glass of milk. As a vegan, I've found things that fill that desire very easily. Everyone knows about soy milk, but they usually dismiss it as a possible beverage, rather using it to cream their coffee or in the above uses. For me it was a little different.
Monday, October 12, 2009
On today, Comfort Food Monday, I wanted to share with you a list of my top five favorite potato dishes, in no particular order:
1. Potato soup
2. A big bowl of mashed potatoes with Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy (from Vegan with a Vengeance), piled high, with corn on the side.
3. Baked potato with all the fixings (broccoli, fake bacon bits, Tofutti sour cream, chives, etc.)
4. Fries! (this is a given though)
5. A simple pile of mashed potatoes with a dollop of Earth Balance, a veggie on the side, and either Chickpea Cutlets or Smokey Grilled Tempeh (both from Veganomicon).
I also stumbled across a different and awesome way to prepare my favorite veggie. This idea comes from another MOFO'er. I was looking through our fantastic list of MOFOing vegan blogs and found this gem - Welsh Onion Cake on The Great Vegan Conspiracy blog. Onions? Potatoes? Cake? I was instantly in love and had to make it. This recipe did not disappoint. The potatoes practically melt in your mouth. If you love potatoes, definitely give this lovely dish a try.
I hope everyone else is enjoying all the lovely food posted by all the MOFO'ers this month. There is no end to the all the gorgeous food flooding the web. I'm hoping to find more favorites as the month goes on.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I don't know how she does it. I follow the same recipe. I use the same same methods, the same ingredients, the same ways of cutting vegetables... and yet my pasta salad never comes out quite as perfect as hers. Still, even when a novice like me butchers the recipe, it still comes out delicious, albeit not as delicious as when Mom makes it. She gave me permission to share the recipe, so you're all very lucky. Try it. Seriously.
Mom's Famous Pasta Salad:
Box of spiral pasta (cooked according to the package directions, and then drained and cooled)
Veggies of your choice (I used diced up onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell pepper, and frozen peas thawed out)
3/4 Cup of Veganaise
3/4 Cup of Tofutti Sour Cream
2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix all the sauce ingredients until smooth. Toss the pasta and the veggies together in a large bowl. Mix sauce in with the pasta and veggies. Cover and refrigerate. Enjoy whenever you like, stirring before serving. It's best when you give it overnight for the flavors to mix together.
That's it! Easy and delicious!
Friday, October 9, 2009
So, here is what we did. We replaced the 1/3 cup of ricotta cheese with a 1/3 cup of the Vegan With a Vengeance recipe Basil-Tofu Ricotta and we replaced the 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese with a 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast. Also, I didn't have walnut oil, so I simply didn't use it at all... and I wonder just how much of a difference it would make if you did use it? We didn't have broccoli raab either. We just used regular old broccoli. It's a really simple fast recipe and it's very delicious. I highly suggest trying it out!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
We use all sorts of veggies, spices, and sauces. Over the years, it has been perfected into an awesome, infallible dish, which we are going to share with you.
Brandon created quite possibly the best stir-fry sauce on the planet. It is flavorful, yet mild. So it complements almost any veggie combination you can think of. Using this base, we've thrown together a very traditional Asian Stir-fry: bell peppers, bok choy, zucchini, squash, etc. We've also gone crazy and put a lot of unlikely stir-fry veggies in there together, like sweet potatoes (zapped in the microwave to get them a little soft), eggplant, brussel sprouts, or turnips. It all tastes good in this sauce... seriously. Throw in a protein of some sort, if you'd like: pre-baked tofu is fantastic; chickpeas are divine; or, like you'll see below, marinate some tempeh and throw it in. Have fun with it! We definitely do.
This is the basic Asian stir-fry recipe we use on a regular basis:
Rice, as much as you want or need (my favorite is Jasmine rice with this recipe)
1 Tbs toasted sesame seed oil (this is practically mandatory, although you could use other oils if you absolutely have to)
Roughly 1 tsp ginger powder (a little less or a little more depending on your love of ginger)
3 garlic cloves
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thinly
2 carrots, sliced thinly
1 bell pepper (red or yellow are the best), sliced thinly
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
2 bunches baby bok choy, rinsed and sliced into chunks
Brandon's Awesome Stir-fry Sauce
3/4 Cup veggie broth
1/4 Cup Hoisin sauce
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 tsp corn starch
3/4 Cup veggie broth
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tsp sweet red chili sauce (or any chili sauce you have on hand or red pepper flakes)
crushed garlic clove
1 tsp toasted sesame seed oil
(optional) 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp liquid smoke (it's just however much smoky flavor you want)
1 hour and 30 minutes beforehand: heat up a medium sized pot full of water. Chop up your tempeh. Once the water is boiling, throw the tempeh in for 15 minutes. While that cooks, get your marinade together. Find a shallow dish. Once the tempeh is finished, drain it and put it in the shallow dish. Pour the marinade over it. Cover and let it sit for an hour, tossing occasionally.
Put your rice in your rice maker and cook according to the directions on the bag.
Chop up all your veggies. Put your sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Grab a wok or a nice, big skillet and heat it to medium high heat. Pour your toasted seasame seed oil in and let it heat up. Throw in your onions and carrots. Cook till the onions are translucsent and the carrots are softening up, about five minutes. Put in your garlic and ginger. Cook it for another minute. Toss in your tempeh (not the marinade though). Let the tempeh brown a little. Give it maybe five minutes or so. Toss in your zucchini, squash, and bell pepper. Let it cook for a minute. Pour in your sauce. Let it come to a boil. Turn down the heat a little and let it cook for about 5-7 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally. Put in your bok choy and cover. Cook for another 5-7 minutes or until your veggies are still slightly crisp.
Serve, and enjoy!!!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
We're pretty broke.
So, Brandon and I are always looking for delicious, cheap meals to help get us through the financially tight times without sparing flavor. Who says you need to eat bland, unseasoned bean soup every night just because you are a little low on funds?
I wanted to share with everyone one of our favorite "poor" dishes: Spaghetti Bolognese. It costs less than $10 and it will feed four people or, in our case, two people (one with a voracious appetite) for both dinner and lunch the next day.
Although the recipe looks deceptively simple and flavorless, it is not. Just make sure you use some really good veggie broth, plenty of Italian spice and oregano, and you are set. It's one of those recipes that you can totally mess with and make your own, although it is seriously fantastic just as it is. Enjoy!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
We moved to Greensboro, NC from Maryland/D.C. area about a year ago. We knew that we would be losing many of the options that we had become accustomed to. Bracing ourselves for that fact, we moved. Greensboro definitely does not have many options for vegans, but there is actually more here than we anticipated. So, during MOFO, I wanted to share with everyone the cool stuff vegans can eat and do in Greensboro.
Meetup.com has been a great help to us in finding other like-minded individuals. In Greensboro, we have a vegan meetup group and an animal welfare meetup group. We have met such wonderful people in our area through this site and attended many an awesome potluck.
Anyway, today, we met with our animal welfare group to help out at a yard sale/bake sale to raise funds. We plan to use the money to start up an unchaining project, where we go to people's homes and offer to build fences for them if they will spay/neuter their dog and take them off of the chain. We hoped to raise enough money to complete our first project.
I baked Isa's delicious Coffee Chip Muffins for the event... and although I couldn't find coffee granules (or afford the $7 coffee extract), they were still delicious as plain, old Chocolate Chip Muffins.
It was a long day, but it was really successful and I believe we earned enough to start our first unchaining project!
Afterward, we went to a really fantastic local restaurant called Jack's Corner Mediterranean Deli. It isn't a vegan restaurant or even a vegetarian one, but it has many vegan options, all of which are notated on the menu with a cute little carrot. One of the most fantastic items on the menu at Jack's is the vegan falafel burger. Yeah, you heard that correctly... a falafel burger. It comes with these insanely good seasoned fries. This restaurant has all sorts of awesome options for vegans. If you happen to be in the area, you should totally stop by and have something from Jack's. You won't regret it.
Afterwards, we were exhausted and came home to relax and watch movies for the rest of the evening. It's been a long day, but also a very satisfying one.
Until tomorrow, happy MOFOing!
Friday, October 2, 2009
In part two of our Field Roast love-fest, I wanted to bring back an old favorite. After all, that really is what comfort food is all about right? Nostalgic properties, hearty taste, and a love affair with your plate. With this in mind, imagine the excitement I had when at my local Earth Fare (essentially a Whole Foods equivalent) I found a Field Roast Meatloaf. This is a new product, but we fearlessly put our faith in Field Roast and concocted a typical comfort meal of champions: meatloaf, green beans, and mashed potatoes and gravy. Being a condiment person myself, I enjoyed a little ketsup mixed with some Cholula Hot Sauce (a current obsession).
Thursday, October 1, 2009
So, Brandon and I set up a few themes to help inspire us throughout the month ahead.
Sunday - he’ll write about football food, since that his favorite thing to do on Sunday is eat and watch football.
Mondays - we’ll discuss our favorite cheap dinners that have gotten us through our little financial rough spots.
Tuesdays – Grocery shopping tips in Greensboro, NC and beyond.
Wednesdays – Our favorite Asian foods.
Thursdays – I’ll discuss my favorite kitchen tools. It’ll be an Ode to a Kitchen Tool, of sorts.
Friday – Comfort food night!
Saturday – Vegan Night Out in Greensboro, NC.
Since today is our kickoff, I decided not to go with one of my favorite kitchen tools. Instead, I want to share with you one of my favorite vegan pre-made grocery store buys in an easy-peasy recipe that I make all the time: Vegan Sausage and Peppers.
Before my revelation, when I was still eating animal flesh, this was my specialty. Everyone loved it. I couldn’t even cook, and it was a hit. Mainly because the key is to the let the flavors stand alone, without a whole lot of hubbub, so it was easy, easy, easy. When I went vegan, I thought, there goes that. I tried unsuccessfully to replicate it. I used Tofurky sausages, seitan, and even vegan breakfast sausages in desperation. Nothing hit that perfect note I was looking for. I finally just gave up.
Then I discovered Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage sausages.
I thought, why not try it out?
It was absolutely perfect. It doesn’t exactly taste like sausage (thank God), but it is delicious and flavorful and hits all the right notes. So, without further ado, here is the simple recipe I use to make this easy meal.
Vegan Sausage and Peppers
Tbs of olive oil
One large onion, quartered and sliced thin
Two garlic cloves (or garlic flakes or powder, whatever you got!)
Three bell peppers of varying colors, sliced and cut into thin strips (or thick, whatever you like)
Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage sausages, cut into thin rounds (or thick, whatever you like)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
A little soy sauce or Braggs
2 Tbs of water
Jasmine or Basmati rice (you can use other rice variations, but this is the best for this)
Put your rice in your rice maker (or pot) and get it going.
Meanwhile, chop up your veggies and sausage and have everything at the ready. Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a big skillet, let it heat up. Throw in your onions and cook them till they brown a little. Throw in your garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Saute for a minute or two. Put your sausage in the pan and let it brown on the sides a little, or as much, as you want. Then throw in your lovely, colorful peppers. Sprinkle on some soy sauce or Braggs to add some salty flavor and loosen up any burnt stuff. Add your pepper (and salt, if you want) to taste. Throw in a couple tablespoons of water to help steam the veggies. Put the lid on for 5 – 10 minutes to let the peppers soften. It tastes the best if the peppers are a tinsy bit crisp. When it’s done, pile the sausage and peppers on top of a bed of jasmine rice and eat up. You can add some hot sauce or Braggs or soy sauce to the mix for some added flavor, if you’d like. Otherwise, enjoy!
This recipe is awesome because it’s delicious as is, but you can mess with it as much as you’d like… add spices, add veggies, change up the sausage or make your own sausage, etc. Feel free to make it your own.
Happy first MOFO day! See you tomorrow for Part 2 of our Field Roast love post.